This season Julio Flores took over an Oceanside wrestling program that had struggled in recent years. But very early in the 2013-2014 campaign he saw the potential his team had, just by the attitude he saw from his wrestlers.
“The kids were really amped up and aggressive coming into the year,” Flores said. “They were ready to wrestle.”
The team was able to showcase that potential, particularly toward the end of the season. Six of Oceanside’s wrestlers competed at Nassau County Division I Championships Feb. 15-16 at Hofstra. While none of them were able to make All-County (top six in each weight class), the school was still well represented at the event.
Kash Calderon went the furthest in the tournament for Oceanside. He was just one match away from being named to All-County at 126 pounds. Also standing out with their efforts were at the event was 160-pound J.T. D’Angelo and 138-pound Dan Grossman.
“It’s nerve racking when you go out on that mat in front of all those people at Hofstra,” Flores said. “It definitely was a good learning experience.”
Oceanside finished with a record of 6-9-1 in dual meets during the season. Flores was pleased with his team’s performance, and says it’s something he expects the program to build on next year. “It was a successful year, because we pinpointed what are weakness are, and the things we need to work on,” he said.
Oceanside had several wrestlers put together standout years. Flores was pleased with the performance of his lightweights this season. One of those was 99-pound sophomore, Quinn O’Rourke. “He’s a young kid who is very tough. Last year he didn’t have many matches, but this year he came in and was phenomenal,” Flores said.
Two 106 pounders, Mike Fishman and Vinny Candela both proved to be some of Flores’ most reliable wrestlers. “It was almost like a sure win when you put those kids on the mat this season,” Flores said.
The coach said the highlight of the year for him was when his squad wrestled at Baldwin. He had wrestled for Baldwin for two years, and was well aware of the rivalry that existed between the two schools. The Sailors trailed by 11 points late in the meet, but were able to come back in their final two matches, and leave Baldwin with a draw.
“It was the best match I had ever been to,” Flores said. “It was one of those things where you had to be there to believe it.”
The season featured many memorable moments for Oceanside, but Flores says there is still much the team can improve in the future.
“This year was really a stepping stone for us,” he said. “Now we got to move forward with this.”